If you want a high-performing, highly-skilled pooch, you need to get into protection dog training as soon as possible. But taking up a task like that will be incredibly difficult, and it’ll require a lot of effort and patience; on your side and the dogs’.
Today, we’re going to discuss the protection dog training that makes sense, and how to figure out if your dog is even right for the task. Also, we’re going to talk about some of the most effective training methods, and share some tips from professional trainers. So let’s get into it.
Why Training Is so Important
Well, the most obvious reason for training your dog is so that it can protect you, your family, clients, or property. A well-trained dog can be one of the best protection assets you’ll ever have in your home or business. Since most protection dogs are fiercely loyal, they will do everything they can to ward off possible intruders.
Of course, without the proper protection dog training, even the fiercest breed will become nothing more than a lapdog. So you need to start a program with your pooch, and it should be early on.
Testing Your Dog
Now, before we get into the different types of protection dog training, the first step is actually checking whether your furry friend can even do it. Luckily, there’s a series of tests that’ll help you determine that.
Obedience & Aggression
Protection training is pretty complex and requires your dog to learn quite a lot of different commands. But it won’t be able to do it unless it has at least a basic level of obedience. That means that your pup should know how to sit, stay, heel, come, and stand.
Having these commands down is a great first step, but obedience training doesn’t stop there. It’s imperative that your dog behaves well off-leash because that’s an incredibly important part of protection training.
Once you’ve gone through the basic obedience tests, it’s time to check for aggression. One of the more basic tests starts with the dog sitting in the heel position next to the handler. Then, a tester will approach the handler, share a greeting, and shake hands.
Once the tester has done that, they will back up, approach the dog, allow it to sniff their hand, and try to pet them. If the dog shows any signs of aggression like avoidance, growling, or nipping, they’ve failed the test. Continuing to train a dog like that is a potentially big liability, as it can be a danger to everyone.
Checking For the Prey Drive
Prey drive is the foundation of any protection dog training, and it’s key that the potential pet has it. Luckily, most dogs, no matter their breed, have it and will show it early on, but the difference is in the strength.
The five types of behaviors that showcase a prey drive include:
- Biting to grab
- Biting to kill
There are a ton of different ways you can test whether or not a dog has prey drive and how strong it is. But if you want to get the complete picture, it’s always best to do a few different tests, and see where the dog falls on the scale.
Checking For the Defense Drive
Simply put, a dog will show off its defense drive when it goes to protect itself or the handler from a threat. A defense drive might first start showing when a puppy is only five or four months old, but it might fully develop only in maturity.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should never try to rush a defense drive out of a dog because it’s counterproductive. To test a defense drive, you need to have a controlled situation where a tester will act intimidating around the dog. If the drive is high, the dog will stand its ground by its handler’s side, bark, or take a lunge at the threat.
Teaching Your Dog the Basics
If your dog has passed the obedience, aggression, prey, and defense drive tests, it’s time to get hands-on. Here are some of the most basic things you need to teach your protection dog.
Socializing is important for every dog, but even more so for one that’s going to be doing protection. That way, it won’t feel stressed or fearful in unusual situations. Sensitive socializing is best done in a period of up to the first 16 weeks, but it’s not a must.
Every time the dog goes out for a walk, it should explore new objects and people. That way, the dog can have a good baseline for normal behaviors. Basically, you want to expose the dog to as many new experiences as possible.
Speak and Quiet
Bark or speak, and be quiet are some of the most basic commands, but the way you train them is key. Interestingly enough, for a dog to learn the silent command, it first needs to be able to speak when you tell it to.
That’s usually done by using a trigger (like a doorbell), getting the dog to sit, and waiting for the bark. Once it’s done that, you heavily reward the behavior with treats.
Then, once the pooch has mastered barking, give the command, say Quiet, and wait for them to stop. When they’ve successfully pulled that off, you need to reward the behavior again.
The Panic Word
After mastering the Speak and Quiet commands, it’s time to introduce a panic word, which should be short and easy to say. Then, go for a walk with the dog on a leash, and have both strangers and familiar faces greet the dog. Those who know the pooch should give it a treat, and pet it, reinforcing friendly behavior.
However, those that don’t should come up and give the dog the panic word. Once the dog starts barking, pull back the leash, give the quiet command, and reward. That will reinforce the concept of stranger danger.
Going to a Professional Training Course
If the level of commitment and time that goes into dog protection training is too much for you, you need to consider a professional course. A personalized training program can make a world of difference, and working with experts can make your life much easier.
Depending on the course, the facilities will teach the dogs a wide variety of different commands, as well as how to protect. However, keep in mind that training courses can be incredibly expensive, so make sure you do your research before handing off your money.
To Sum up
Protection dog training is an exhausting process, especially if you’re not used to working with pets. But perseverance and patience can get you a long way. And if all else fails, you can always take advantage of professional training courses.
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